A Publication of WTVP

In his 1963 book, A Business and its Beliefs, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., former IBM chief executive, wrote, "I believe the real difference between success and failure in a corporation can be very often traced to the question of how well the organization brings out the great energies and talents of its people."

Wise words-and that was more than 40 years ago. Although Watson was referring to the corporate world with its executives and managers, what we're finding today is that the same applies to communities and economic development.

A successful community is one that brings out the energies and talents of its people. In the current marketplace, more and more communities are learning the energies and talents of their people are expressed through many ways, one of which is creativity.

When Dr. Richard Florida visited Peoria in February for Discovery Forum 2004: A Celebration of Creativity, his words ignited a fire in the hearts of many. For weeks after the Discovery Forum, the editorial pages of the newspaper were sprinkled with poignant references to Florida and his remarks about creativity and the rise of the creative class.

His comments certainly hit home, as they have in many cities all over the nation. Florida has even generated a list ranking the most creative cities in the nation. It's noteworthy that the creative cities list bears close approximation to a list of the best cities in which to live and work. The link between creativity and a healthy economy is clear.

The real challenge is in staging a transition to the type of open, diverse, tolerant community that embraces creativity in all its forms. Creativity is most often associated with art, but art is only one form of creativity. Creativity is alive in the office, in the laboratory, in the machine shop, and in the classroom. It's alive in innovative solutions, thought-provoking experimentation, skillful management, and new teaching methods. The measure of a creative city is not only in its arts community, but also in every facet of the community.

With that in mind, Peoria NEXT, ArtsPartners, and the Peoria Civic Federation have teamed up to sponsor the Peoria Prize. The Peoria Prize is a nationwide competition de-signed to recognize creativity in all its forms. The purpose of the award is to foster, recognize, and reward visionary and innovative projects that result from creative collaborations between and/or among individuals representing the arts and sciences. The Peoria Civic Federation has underwritten a $10,000 cash award for the winner of the Peoria Prize in 2004.

The Prize emphasizes the importance of creativity as an essential component of economic and cultural development that enriches the community, the nation, and the world. In addition to building the type of creative environment necessary to enhance economic development efforts in the Peoria area, this award is also a valuable opportunity to reposition Peoria in the eyes of a larger audience.

Not only did more than 1,000 people from throughout the Midwest converge in Peoria to celebrate creativity last month, but now Peoria also has an opportunity to be recognized as a promoter of creativity throughout the nation.

Our sights are set high, but the rewards will be great indeed. We encourage you to spread the word about the Peoria Prize. IBI